Well, we have finally waited all year long to get to this magical night…opening night. Both Kentucky and Mississippi State open up tonight, and both teams are under-the-radar type teams in 2011.
Here are five underrated players suiting up in the SEC tonight:
1. Morgan Newton, QB, Kentucky
Morgan Newton is the talk around Lexington, Kentucky, and for good reason. His 6-4, 240lb frame is very athletic, and he has a very strong arm. Newton should be able to torch this Western Kentucky defense, a defense that gave up over 33 points per game a year ago. With the help of a stable and veteran offensive line, Newton will score early and often, and I look forward to watching this kid start the season off with a high note against the underwhelming Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. I think Newton can really make a name for himself this season in Lexington.
2. Chris Relf, QB, Mississippi State
By now, everyone has heard Chris Relf’s name once or twice, but most will still tell you he is an underrated player in this league. He’s a senior veteran for Dan Mullen’s offense, and his 240lb frame can take all the beating in the spread offense. I expect Relf to get the season started off right for the Starkville Bulldogs against a not-so-good Memphis team. Relf will hopefully get off to a good year not only running the football, but throwing as well. He needs to pick up right where he left off a year ago against Michigan and really progress in the passing game.
3. Danny Trevathan, LB, Kentucky
Kentucky linebacker Danny Trevathan is still a really under-the-radar type of player. He might not grade out well with NFL scouts, but the kid really has a nose for the football. Trevathan averaged over 11 tackles per game last year, and finished as the leading tackler in the SEC with 144 total tackles. Trevathan will gobble up the Hilltoppers early and often in Nashville.
4. Vick Ballard, RB, Mississippi State
Vick Ballard returns in the SEC West as the leading scorer in the conference a year ago. The senior Ballard was formally a JUCO transfer, and he has really grown into his own and is really an asset in Dan Mullen’s spread offense. Ballard should score a couple of touchdowns for the Bulldogs tonight again the Memphis Tigers, who finished 84th in the country rushing defense and gave up over 170 yards per game on the ground.
5. Johnathan Banks, DB, Mississippi State
Defensive back Johnathan Banks has really good size for a corner at 6-2. Banks was formerly a safety, but he moved to corner after his freshman season. He had two interceptions and five pass break ups a year ago. He made over 50 tackles, and he is a big-time asset to this defensive backfield. Banks will always be more of an underrated player in Starkville, but I am giving him his due.
Get to know these five players, and start by watching them on opening night. All five have a chance to have some crooked numbers after tonight.